Blurring Genders between Chicness and Comfort

Style in the name of expression of freedom seemed to have taken the place that elegance used to occupy. Fashion and the codes of dressing well are now represented by sporty — in other words, unisex — clothing. Furthermore, putting on comfortable shoes, feminine lines on men’s wear and masculine patterns on the women’s dress gets more visible.

Only, a few years ago, the phrase “dressing chic” would conjure up images of smart, ladylike clothing. Chic was equivalent to elegance. Matching down to the smallest detail, the clothing making up a woman’s outfi t emphasized femininity and the quality of being refi ned. Classy blouses accompanied beautiful skirts that were each more lovely than the next with their fabric, cut and design. Jackets and dresses were similarly elegant. Their pleats, cut and details emphasized that which was feminine, not tomboyish. Women’s clothing meant an elegant appearance, down to accessories, cuts, fabrics, style and combinations. Women would dress elegantly like real gentlewomen, and men would dress like gentlemen. But today the concept that we refer to as “chic” has changed, with a style emphasizing freedom taking over. The clothing that used to represent the image of a gentleman or a lady is now history, replaced by clothing that does not distinguish between gender, markets or age and is supposedly dynamic and in keeping with the times.

The fashion of sporty clothing, led by American designers, has spread from high school campuses to every level of society and every age group. As a marketing tool, the words youth, dynamic, free and equal have been introduced to the world of fashion. Clothing of which we say, “Well, it’s practical,” has in a short space of time taken over our closets. Hangers organizing skirts have been replaced with shelves for jeans; in place of classy blouses, smart dresses and detailed cardigans, we now wear the combed cotton shirts that used to be reserved for sleepwear. Even going to work, we wear jeans and T-shirts. With these articles of clothing that we feel we can wear 24hours a day, seven days a week, we think that we’re fashionable. However, it’s of undeniable importance to be able to distinguish between the relationships between fashion and clothing, social structure and culture.

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